Wrestler Sushil Kumar was at the Delhi High Court on Tuesday morning to fight for a spot in the Rio Olympics which is slated to begin in August later this year.
The Court heard the Olympic medallist’s plea and directed the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to hear him out. The court also stated that it was willing to interfere in the matter only as a last resort.
Yesterday, Kumar had filed a plea in the Delhi High Court seeking a selection trial to decide who will represent India in the men’s 74 kg freestyle category at Rio Games.
“This court directs that in the meantime, the petitioner (Sushil) shall be given a hearing by the President, Vice President, Secretary and coach of respondent number 4 (WFI),” said Justice Manmohan.
The court also sought a response from the Sports Ministry and the wrestling federation and asked them to file their affidavits. The next hearing on the matter will now take place on May 27.
Kumar is demanding that the federation conduct a selection trial to decide who will participate in the 74 kg freestyle category at the Rio Games. As of now wrestler Narsingh Pancham Yadav is scheduled to participate in the event after he booked a spot through the quota system.
Kumar’s counsel told the court that the wrestler was injured when a Wrestling Championship was held last year where Narsingh won a medal and the Olympic berth was given to him in the category.
The lawyer argued that as per the scheme of government of India for promoting wrestlers to win medals at the Olympics, Sushil has been getting funds for his training.
“The petitioner (Sushil) has received the funds even after Narsingh Yadav had won a bronze medal in the Championship….I have a reason to go for a shot for Rio Olympics 2016. Confusing signals have been given to me and there has been no response from WFI. If the selection trial is carried out, I don’t want to miss that. The WFI has failed to follow the guidelines,” claimed Kumar’s counsel.
However, WFI argued that Kumar had been participating in 66 kg freestyle category and now wanted to participate in 74 kg category.
“Narsingh Yadav has participated in 74 kg category and has won a bronze medal in the World Wrestling Championship which is far more tough than the Olympics,” the counsel said.
The bench sought to know if WFI had taken a decision on the matter. On being informed that Kumar wasn’t ready to listen to WFI’s decision, the judge said, “This man (Sushil) has also got laurels for the country. The reasons which he is giving are quite worthy and I am not finding any malafide in what he is saying.”
“You both are equally placed. How can I decide this. I will only interfere as a last resort. Let WFI decide this first as they are experts in this field,” the judge added.
Kumar had moved the court only after his appeals to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Sports Ministry went unheard.
According to the rules, a quota belongs to the country and not to a particular wrestler and, thus, it was expected that a trial would be held in the contentious 74kg category to chose between Sushil and Narsingh Yadav.
WFI has been giving hints that it is not too keen on holding the trial in 74kg division, fearing demands from other wrestlers in the remaining seven weight categories India has earned quotas for Rio Games.
Narsingh has been staking his claim to represent India at the Olympics since last year when he secured a quota place at the World Championship in Las Vegas after winning a bronze in 74kg. Sushil, who missed the event due to a shoulder injury, has been demanding a trial.
(With inputs from PTI)